Craig Gillespie’s last and probably only memorable film to date was the touchingly quirky Lars and the Real Girl in 2007, starring Ryan Gosling as a delusional guy who has a relationship with a life-like doll. This showed the makings of a great director of twisted unconventionality in the heart of suburbia – kind of like his latest project, the remake of 1985 cult classic, Fright Night, only in 3D.
Anton Yelchin reprises William Ragsdale’s troubled soul of a character, Charley Brewster, who learns that his new next-door neighbour, Jerry, is a vampire (played by Colin Farrell). But no one, not even alleged ‘vampire slayer’ Peter Vincent (David Tennant) will believe him. He tries in vain to keep the ones he loves, mum Jane (Toni Collette) and girlfriend Amy (Imogen Poots), away from Jerry’s alluring charms.
Gillespie has produced a worthy comedy horror remake with thrilling bite that nicely balances the comedy with the frights, and actually uses the 3D in the moments that matter. Purely to engage latter-day audiences, he has brought Fright Night into Noughties’ Las Vegas suburbia with its sparse, box-like housing that’s a freak show in itself, but is familiar ‘hunting’ ground for the paranormal from many previous horrors.
There is a blood-sucking overload happening at present, from TV to the big screen, but whereas the Twilight saga takes itself too seriously, this is more like a comical version of True Blood, sexy and provocative but tongue firmly placed in cheek. For the ladies, there’s brooding Farrell as Jerry in full testosterone gear, hunting females like sport in a way we like to think the real Farrell behaves. Chris Sarandon as Jerry was far more debonair in the original whereas Farrell is a Hells Angel ‘bad boy’, complete with bike. For the guys, this genre film does lack a certain ‘femme fatale sexuality’ that is synonymous with vamp horrors and the sex connotations of penetration with the drawing of blood. Even Vincent’s attractive female groupies do little to stir the flames, almost a parody of the wanton hussies found normally cavorting in the vampire’s lair.
Fright Night 3D demonstrates how a stellar cast can make a dramatic and engaging difference to any offering in the vampire genre. In addition to Farrell and Collette who gives a great supporting performance, it’s ‘Charlie Bartlett the vamp slayer’, with Yelchin once again providing his unique brand of understated boy-next-door charisma and affecting vulnerability in another coming-of-age role. Yelchin is a worthy Ragsdale successor, keeping us onboard the fang fight, where less accomplished, younger talent may have caused Gillespie’s efforts to falter, but not forgetting to keep his character, Charley, interesting on many levels.
Tennant brings a touch of Russell Brand to Roddy McDowall’s memorable portrayal of Peter Vincent the showman that it’s hard not to think Brand is in fact on the screen. Tennant plays madmen with aplomb anyhow, and fans will delight at his camp, leather-clad appearance in this.
Gillespie’s Fright Night retains the cool but spooky factor of the first film, with a couple of 3D effects thrown in – or at you, mainly droplets of blood. It may well reignite the cult classic following of the first for a new generation as it provides a fang full of fun.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE